(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Black Excellence: Virginia Student Becomes First Black Valedictorian In School’s History

by Miah Hardy

July 5, 2017

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

We love #BlackExcellence!

In the spring, 18-year-old Jahlil Nickens will make his first step into adulthood by graduating from Lancaster High School in Lancaster, VA, but he will also make history as the school’s first Black Valedictorian.

The oldest boy of six children, Jahlil assisted his parents with raising his younger siblings while remaining active in school activities and sports and maintaining a 4.6 GPA.

Jahlil’s mother, Tekecia Nickens, is not surprised by her son’s major accomplishment. “From the time that Jahlil was little we could tell that he was special. He has always excelled in his studies,” his mother shared with WTVR. “When he was in the first or second grade, he said he was going to be a U.S. Senator.”

We will definitely buy a “Nickens For Senate” shirt in the future!

In elementary school, Jahlil and his classmates were paired with adult mentors and his mentor, Barbara Everton, is still in contact with him to this very day!

On first meeting Jahlil, Everton stated, “He was very bright and alive. A smile that covered his face. He was very friendly and very open. You could just tell from talking to him, he was interested in learning things”.

She assisted Jahlil with his academics, but also with overcoming life obstacles.

“Jahlil has overcome a lot of adversity and obstacles,” commented his mother. “From having to deal with the fact his father was incarcerated not once but twice, and having to leave his friends and [twin] sister to attend Chesapeake Academy in middle school”.

Jahlil did not allow his past struggles to define his future successes. He will attend Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Engineering in the fall and plans on earning a Master’s Degree in Computer Science.

“I don’t like under performing,” Jahlil confessed to WTVR. “However, looking back, I feel I did it more for my family and the people around me than for myself. I wanted to make them proud”.

And proud they should be!

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